Tom Trenta of Elmhurst is making a big bet on dining and entertainment in his hometown’s downtown.
Last month, Trenta officially opened the new concert and event space Elmhurst Hall and a new bar called Ever Onward, both at 119 N. York Road. The same building also is set to see a new upscale restaurant called Kindred that is aiming for a late April opening.
“We are fully aware that we are trying to launch a new hospitality business coming out of a pandemic and coming out of a restaurant hiring crisis,” Trenta said. “But times of struggle are also of opportunity, and downtown Elmhurst was ripe for something like this right now.”
Trenta previously worked in creative marketing agencies for other restaurant brands for the past decade. But he had his eye on redeveloping his hometown.
Trenta’s trifecta of downtown Elmhurst attractions replaces what was formerly Fitz’s Spare Keys, a 24,000-square-foot building known for its bowling lanes and billiards that closed last year after 12 years of business. The gutted and remodeled building now features the 6,000-square-foot Elmhurst Hall as the centerpiece attraction with a 35-foot stage and a 26-foot video screen for concerts or private parties.
“We invested heavily in the acoustics for the room,” Trenta said. “The most important amenity is that it sounds great.”
As a music hall, Trenta said the goal this year is to present 100 live shows to attract both local and regional audiences. Select nights of the week are dedicated to local rock bands, jazz combos and ticketed concert headliners booked through Chicago-based Star Events.
When Elmhurst Hall is not closed off for private parties or paid concerts, it can be opened up for patrons of the bar Ever Onward to wander over to enjoy the music.
Trenta describes Ever Onward, his optimistically named bar, as an “energizing and uplifting space” that is designed to be the opposite of a dark sports bar – even though games can be seen on its screens. While Ever Onward and Kindred will have separate food and drink menus, Trenta said both places will aim to be as locally sourced as possible with ingredients and area brands.
“Ever Onward will have its own kitchen and its own staff and its own vibe,” said Trenta, adding the bar’s production kitchen can accommodate Elmhurst Hall’s large parties of more than 200 people.
Kindred restaurant will have its own kitchen and space in the building. The emphasis will be open-flame seasonal cooking for steaks, vegetable plates, venison, duck and shellfish.
“Kindred is really going to be our baby to raise the culinary scene in the area and also to bring lots of people into our town,” Trenta said. “Investing in downtown Elmhurst is something that I’ve been planning to do for a long time and I couldn’t be happier.”